Bliss & Emptyness ~ A Buddhist Approach to Identity

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Bliss & Emptiness – A Buddhist Approach to Identity


Day/Session:Thursday 1H

Convener:Heather Vescent

Notes-taker(s): Romain Lenglet


Tags for the session – Technology discussed/ideas considered:

Buddhism, Philosophy, Ego


Discussion notes, key understandings, outstanding questions, observations, and, if appropriate to this discussion: action items, next steps:

  • How to deal with the large amount of drama and conflict in the world?
    • Reduce the sources of drama (people, etc.)
    • Heather interprets Buddhism as promoting emptiness
  • Our identity changes over time, constantly
    • There is no consistent identity
    • We're becoming someone else, all the time
  • In standards, we're not caring who you really are
  • The question is: how can we help users be in a blissful state?
  • The ego is an illusion
  • But we are social animals
    • We need to interact and function in the world
    • So we adopt personas
    • This is a necessary and good thing
    • The key is to not *identity* with our personas
  • One way to model this is
    • Personality -> Personas -> Roles -> ...
    • We typically each have lots of identities / personas / attributes
  • One way to define our identity is in terms of our relationships
    • We are interdependent, inter-being
    • Ubuntu philosophy: I am because we are
    • "Collective identity"
    • Identity is a social and contextual construct
  • The Australian definition of a person: someone who has a digital identity
    • That's a very extreme position, and it seems wrong
    • Bringing in a Buddhism point of view would help prevent going into such an extreme position
  • Thai society seems to be losing its Buddhist tradition
    • They seem to be moving to Western culture
    • But there shouldn't be an opposition between Buddhist and Westerm cultures
  • The risk of technology is that we may be trapped in hive minds / group think / echo chambers
    • We're driven by a need to belong, to be in a group
  • Mindfulness is about being intentional in how we use our identity / personas
    • We are responsible for our own identities / personas
  • Frustration with SSI
    • It's hard to manage the nuances of those many identities / personas
    • Technology should allow us to better manage our personas, and managing more personas
    • For instance, it could give us some insights / awareness about our own identity
    • Technology should help us with that, but it currently doesn't and may even prevent us
  • Technology needs to better address the temporal aspect of identity
    • Better match our constant changes of identities over time
    • Concept of "identity flow"
  • However, the overall conclusion is that technology has limits in how it solved identity
  • We need better terms
    • Identity is too vague, and is used to refer to too many different things
    • Better terms would be: persona, identifier, ego, etc.
  • No spider was harmed during this session